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Bowmanstown eyes dog ordinance

Published March 08. 2019 11:26AM

Bowmanstown Borough could be the first municipality to adopt a dog ordinance with some teeth in it.

“There have been several dogs that we don’t know what to do with,” said Kara Scott, the president of the borough council.

Scott said the borough has called the state police when a dog has been found in distress or possibly mistreated, but an ordinance would give the borough the ability to do something about it themselves. The borough is working on an ordinance similar to the state’s Libre Law, which was enacted in 2017.

“I came here to give you some information,” said Donna Crum, a Humane Society officer for Carbon County and a cruelty officer for the Carbon County Friends of Animals. “I know what you need to do to get this up to the state law.

Crum spoke to the borough council at its meeting Tuesday night. She was invited by some of the council members to provide insight into the Libre Law.

”It starts here,” she said. “You guys are the first borough to reach out for help.”

Crum said she is thrilled that Bowmanstown is pursuing the ordinance.

According to the state Department of Agriculture, the Libre Law has five key components.

• The care of dogs that live outside.

• The protection of horses, which is not something the borough intends to include in its ordinance.

• Increases the penalties for animal abuse.

• Guarantees that animal abusers cannot have animal shelters in the future.

• Protects veterinarians and veterinary technicians who report animal abuse.

Bowmanstown is particularly interested in how the law is applied to dogs that live outside.

The state law requires that a dog not be tethered more than nine hours in a 24-hour period. When tethered the tether must be longer than three times the dogs length or 10 feet, and the space must be clear of waste.

If the weather is above 90 degrees or below 30 degrees, then the dog is not allowed to be out in the conditions for more than 30 minutes. Water and shade must be provided. No tow or log chain, choke, pinch, prong, or chain collars are allowed. And the dog must be free of any sores or wounds.

“You’re holding that person accountable,” Crum said about people who fail to care for their dogs appropriately.

If someone is found to be neglecting his or her dog, then that person could be charged with a summary offense. The penalty is up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine. A neglect charge could also be considered a third degree misdemeanor, which could result in up to one year in jail and/or $2,000 fine if the neglect results in bodily injury or the animal is in imminent risk.

A person charged with cruelty would face a second degree misdemeanor and a sentence of up to two years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. Someone charged with aggravated cruelty would face a third degree felony and up to seven years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine.

Another benefit to the borough enacting the ordinance is that “the fines will come back to us instead of to the state,” Scott said.

Council member Pam Leiby, who is also the chairwoman of the council’s law committee, told the council members, “We will incorporate fees in the ordinance.”

The committee still has much work to do on the ordinance before they can bring it to the council for a vote.

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